AICP, Executive Director
P: 540-639-9313 x212 | [email protected] Kevin Byrd began working for the Commission in 2005 as a Regional Planner and was appointed Executive Director in October 2009. He has over 15 years of community development experience in the public sector at the town, county and regional levels of government along with private sector consulting experience. He has a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Tech and a Bachelor of Science degree from Appalachian State University. He is currently in leadership roles serving as President of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), Secretary/Treasurer of the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC), and President of Live, Work, Eat, Gather, Inc. a non-profit focused on the holistic impact of local food systems. Kevin is also on the Board of Directors for the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation, Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, and the Southeast Regional Director’s Institute. In his volunteer time he serves as Past President of the New River Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited. In 2018 he received the Distinguished Business Leader of the Year Award from the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce and the VAPDC President’s Award for his leadership in guiding the state association to hire their first executive director.
CPA, Finance Technician
Jessica Barrett joined the Commission in March 2018 as a part-time finance technician following 2 years as the Supervisor of Finance for a local school district. Prior to her work in school finance, she spent over 10 years in public accounting, with the most recent being in the tax department of a regional accounting firm.
Jessica holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy from Bluefield State College in West Virginia. She is a licensed CPA in WV and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
P: 540.639.9313 x202 [email protected]
Economic Recovery Planner
Summer was hired in November 2020 as NRVRC’s Economic Recovery Planner. Her role is to understand how communities and businesses in the region have been impacted by COVID-19, and work with them to create a new—hopefully better—normal. As a part of these efforts, she is working on composing an Economic Recovery Plan for the region, and the assisting with the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Update.
Summer earned her master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Tech in 2020, and her BA in History from James Madison University. While pursuing her master’s degree, Summer worked for Virginia Tech’s Institute of Policy and Governance where she assisted with the data management and process evaluation for a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) grant. She also worked on several projects as part of her Graduate Studies including a site planning project for the National Park Service, research and preliminary language for a temporary/seasonal vending ordinance in Buena Vista, VA, and recommendations for enabling legislation for craft beer production in the Town of Blacksburg, among other projects.
AICP, Senior Planner
Aphi Fancon, AICP, joined the commission as a regional planner in 2017 after working in Florida for 8 years. Before relocating to Virginia, she worked extensively with long range and current planning as the Senior Planner at the City of Titusville, and the City Planner at the City of Cocoa Beach Florida. Aphi was heavily involved with updating the city comprehensive plans, including compliance with water supply concurrency, working with staff, various boards, commissions and the community. She played a key role in Greater Titusville EcoHeritage Trail Plan, and was a staff liaison to the Titusville Environmental Commission.
Aphi holds a Masters degree in Water Resource Planning and Management from the University of Florida, a Masters in Planning from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, and a Bachelors in Civil Engineering from NERIST, India. She has also completed an intensive study program in Urban Ecological Planning as a NORAD fellow in Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
P: 540.639.9313 x217
Regional Planner II/Community Designer
Nicole joined the commission in 2019 after completing a dual masters in Landscape Architecture and Natural Resources from Virginia Tech. While completing her graduate work, Nicole interned with the University Planning Office, contributing to projects like the Drillfield Canopy Assessment and Strategy Plan and Stroubles Creek Daylighting, as well as planting plans for the Moss Arts Centers and a number of quads across campus.
Since moving to the New River Valley in 2017, Nicole participated in the Town of Blacksburg storm drain mural project. Her mural of Cascade Falls can be seen behind Sharkey’s in Downtown Blacksburg. She also volunteers by running a native plant propagation program through the Stroubles Creek Coalition, a Virginia Tech student and alumni organization that looks to improve local water quality and waterway awareness through riparian restoration.
At the commission, Nicole is the liaison to the New River Watershed Roundtable, a group with representatives around the region, dedicated to improving water quality and awareness of one of our most loved natural resources, the New River. She also supports a variety of local planning and community design efforts with a passion for creating vibrant and resilient communities.
P: 540.639.9313 x202
James R. Jones
Regional Planner II
James Jones joined the commission as a regional planner in 2016 after interning with the NRVRC during his senior spring semester. As an intern, James helped jump start the commission’s regional data dashboard. Now James works on various regional projects while continuing to work on the regional data dashboard. Some of his planning experience includes the annual Chesapeake Job Fair sponsored by Congressman J. Randy Forbes, Blacksburg high school resume/college workshop along with experience in event planning as a Supervisor for the Banquets department at the Inn at Virginia Tech. James received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Business Leadership from Virginia Tech.
P: 540.639.9313 x203 [email protected]
Director of Finance and Personnel
Janet McNew is a life-long resident of Pulaski County. After twenty-five years in the banking field she joined the Regional Commission in September of 1999 as a Project Manager. While serving as a Project Manager she worked on a number of community projects including a transitional housing center in Radford as well as the Commerce Center and Jacksonville Center in Floyd. In January 2012 Janet was promoted to her current role as Director of Finance and Personnel. She is responsible for all Commission financial activity, budget preparation, as well as benefits administration.
P: 540.639.9313 x211 [email protected]
Regional Planner II
Patrick O’Brien joined the Commission as a Regional Planner in 2014. Patrick focuses on economic development planning, data analysis, and grant writing and technical assistance to advance local economic development projects. Patrick maintains the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) planning document, and administers the New River Valley Development Corporation’s revolving loan fund for small businesses. Patrick has a special interest in workforce development issues, small business and entrepreneurship development, and redevelopment of downtown commercial districts. Patrick received a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Tech, and a BA in English from James Madison University.
P: 540.639.9313 x206
Julie Phillips joined the Regional Commission in 2012 as Office Manager after working for a local remodeling firm for 6 1/2 years. Julie serves as staff support to the Regional Commission board of directors as well as support for the Commission convening role through Member Services. She also provides staff support for the Commission’s finance role for the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Board, New River Valley Commerce Park, New River Valley Development Corporation and the Southwest Virginia Solid Waste Managers Association. Julie has a Bachelor of Science degree in Design from Radford University.
P: 540.639.9313 x216
Deputy Executive Director
Elijah “Eli” Sharp joined the New River Valley Regional Commission in 2009, following three years as an engineer in Blacksburg, VA. As Deputy Executive Director, Eli is responsible for managing complex professional and responsible managerial work in planning and executing the day-to-day operational and administrative activities of the agency. Eli has over ten years of private and public sector experience in transportation, site planning, community development, grant administration, and stormwater management.
Eli has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering Technology and a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering Technology from Bluefield State College in West Virginia. He currently serves as the Vice Chair of the NRVMPO Technical Advisory Committee, Co-Chair of the NRV Regional Transit Coordinating Council, and as a representative on the National Rural Planning Organization Council of Peers.
P: 540.639.9313 x210 [email protected]
AICP, Senior Planner
Christy Straight has been a Regional Planner with the Commission since 2008. Her background includes a degree in journalism from Ohio University and over a decade in marketing and sales for engineering and environmental services firms. Her work program with the Commission consists of RIDE Solutions in the New River Valley, Virginia’s First Regional Industrial Facilities Authority, hazard mitigation planning, grant administration and various other transportation and regional planning projects. She currently serves as President and Scholarship Coordinator for the Rural Planning Caucus of Virginia.
P: 540.639.9313 x209
GIS & Planning Intern
Alisande Tombarge is serving as Planning & GIS Intern while working towards a master’s degree in Urban
and Regional Planning from Virginia Tech. Prior to starting her degree program at Tech, Alisande did GIS
work in the field of land conservation for over ten years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Geography
with a minor in GIS from George Mason University.
Data Systems Manager
Kristie Warack joined the Regional Commission in 2018 after several years working in natural resources and the transportation industry. As Data Systems Manager, she manages the Commission’s GIS database and is responsible for the majority of the geospatial analysis and cartography. In addition, she also oversees the Commission’s website and IT infrastructure.
Kristie has a degree in Wildlife Conservation from Juniata College and recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Information Technology from Virginia Tech.
P: 540.639.9313 x222
AICP, Senior Planner
Jennifer Wilsie, AICP, joined the Commission in 2007 as a regional planner. She works extensively with affordable housing for the region, providing staff support to the NRV HOME Consortium and was directly involved in the creation of the first regional housing plan for the New River Valley as part of the Livability Initiative. Through the administration of several Community Development Block Grants, Jennifer has experience working across a variety of sectors such as adult day services, housing rehabilitation, and local foods. Jennifer has a bachelor’s degree in English from Virginia Tech.
P: 540.639.9313 x204